Questions I’m often asked are: Who do I read? Who do I look to for new ideas? Who are the true leaders of the social media space? It’s such a great question that I’ve taken my first pass at a “social media all-star team.” As a fantasy baseball league participant, I thought it would be cool to draft this team just as one would a fantasy baseball or football team. I’ve drafted 20 social media all-stars in total along with numerous people who get an honorable mention.
This list is comprised of people who are the luminaries and pioneers of the social media frontier. I plan to do this periodically and by no means do I feel I will get this 100 percent correct the first time, so please let me know your thoughts — be social! Do I personally know some of these folks? Yes — so voice your opinion where you feel there is bias and we will adjust accordingly moving forward. These are in reverse alphabetical order.
Social Media All-Stars
- Gary Vaynerchuk: Social media sommelier. Vaynerchuk may be the one who benefited the most from social media. Although his antics are somewhat controversial, he has proven that passion + effort + social media = a healthy return. He has helped grow his family wine business from $4 million to $50 million through the use of social media. He is best known for his Wine Library TV — a series of videos giving insights on wine. He is also author of “Crush It,” a short book detailing how he uses social media and that anyone can do this. @garyvee
- Brian Solis: Solis is principal of FutureWorks, an award-winning PR and new media agency in Silicon Valley. His new book written with coauthor Deirdre Breakenridge and published by the Financial Times Press, “Putting the Public back in Public Relations,” is now available at bookstores nationwide. Solis is cofounder of the Social Media Club and is an original member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup. @briansolis
- Mari Smith: Social media business coach. Fast Company called Smith the “Pied Piper of Online.” Her smile and ebullient personality have attracted many fans and followers — she is a great case study in developing ones own brand. Smith combines a good mix of energy and honesty. She even wrote a heartfelt post about her recent divorce. She is also well known for her fun hats in her Twitter profile photos. @MariSmith
- Shiv Singh: Singh is Avenue A Razorfish VP & global social media lead. He is also the author of the newly released, “Social Media for Dummies.” He is a regular author and contributor to numerous Avenue A Razorfish white papers and studies on social media. One such report that is worth a read is: “Fluent: Razorfish Social Media Influence Report.” @shivsingh
- Clay Shirky: Shirky, an adjunct professor in NYU’s graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), is one of the world’s most requested speakers on social media. @cshirky
- Peter Shankman: Shankman is perhaps best known for founding Help a Reporter Out (HARO). In addition to HARO, he is the founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc., a boutique marketing and PR strategy firm located in New York City, with clients worldwide. @skydiver
- David Meerman Scott: Marketing strategist and author. Scott was well ahead of the curve in 2007 with his best selling book, “The New Rules of Marketing & PR.” He appears to have another winner in the book, “Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs” — as a contributing author and editor. Scott is very generous with his time and is an active contributor across the Web and on the speaking circuit. @dmscott
- Jeremiah Owyang: Partner, customer strategy, Altimeter Group. Owyang’s tremendous insight from his tweets is enough to make this list. Aside from his work at Altimeter he is also a columnist for Forbes CMO Network. He is also a great complement to Charlene Li at the Altimeter Group. He excels at interpreting news and, as an industry analyst, tells us “what it means” and is a great reference for the market. @jowyang
- Lee Odden: Odden is one of 25 online marketing experts featured in “Online Marketing Heroes,” published by Wiley, and has been cited for his search and social media marketing expertise by The Economist, US News & World Report, and Fortune magazine. Odden is the CEO of TopRank Online Marketing. @LeeOdden
- Dave Morin: Senior platform manager at Facebook. Morin was named as one of the “100 Most Creative People in Business” by Fast Company in 2009. He has over 167,000 followers on Twitter because he usually has interesting insight on the social media landscape. Morin also travels more in a year than most do in a lifetime. @davemorin
- Scott Monty: Digital and multimedia communications manager at Ford Motor Company. Monty practices what he preaches by having ongoing conversations with car buyers and influencers. While he is a marketer rather than an engineer, his new type of thinking and passion has changed the way Ford thinks about everything, and is why Ford is looking more like a Macintosh computer and less like a Model T. Some of Ford’s new cars will be enabled with Wi-Fi. Much can be learned from Monty’s intelligence, foresight, and fortitude. @scottmonty
- Valeria Maltoni: Her blog, ConversationAgent, is recognized among the world’s top online marketing blogs (among the top 25 on Advertising Age’s Power 150, as well as three categories in Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop). Maltoni was handpicked by Fast Company as an expert blogger to write about creating conversations between the marketer and customer. She built one of the first online communities affiliated with the magazine. @ConversationAge
- Charlene Li: Founder of Altimeter Group and coauthor of “Groundswell” (along with Josh Bernoff), she is also a great public speaker and has presented frequently at top technology conferences such as Web 2.0 Expo, SXSW, Search Engine Strategies, and the American Society of Association Executives. Her next book is “Open: How Leaders Win By Letting Go.” @charleneli
- Guy Kawasaki: Founding partner at Garage and cofounder of Alltop. Kawasaki describes Alltop as an “online magazine rack.” Kawasaki has written nine books and always seems to be one step ahead of the curve. I can personally thank him for turning me on to Twitter long before CNN started using it obsessively. If you have a chance to read Kawasaki’s bio it is well worth it — a very interesting background (Apple disciple) and an avid hockey fan. @GuyKawasaki
- Mitch Joel: Marketing Magazine dubbed him the “Rock Star of Digital Marketing” and called him, “one of North America’s leading digital visionaries.” The author of the book, “Six Pixels of Separation,” he’s also a former board member of the Interactive Advertising Bureau of Canada. @MitchJoel
- Brian Halligan: Cofounder and CEO of HubSpot. Halligan is also coauthor of “Inbound Marketing,” which has been flying off the shelves since its October release (coauthors are Dharmesh Shah and David Meerman Scott). Aside from being wicked smart (Sloan Fellow at MIT), he is a normal dude who enjoys playing guitar, tennis, and taking in a Red Sox game. @bhalligan
- Seth Godin: Author and permission marketing evangelist. Not much needed to say here — Godin is probably the most recognized name on this list. Many of the basic principals of social media are what Godin has been preaching for years (in a slightly different context). Interestingly enough, he doesn’t use Twitter because he believes he would be mediocre at it and it would take away from what he does best: blogging/writing. His blog is consistently one of the most popular year after year. And he answers every e-mail from his fans. @ThisIsSethsBlog
- Paul Gillin: He was editor-in-chief and executive editor of the technology weekly, “Computerworld” for 15 years. His 2007 book, “The New Influencers” was awarded a silver medal in the business category by ForeWord magazine. @pgillin
- Chris Brogan: President, New Marketing Labs. Brogan is recognized as one of the “World’s Top Bloggers” (Advertising Age Power 150 Top 10 Blog) and his book, “Trust Agents” (coauthor is Julien Smith) reached The New York Times Best Seller’s list in 2009. Chris is also the cofounder of the PodCamp new media conference series. Chris takes time to respond to almost everyone that reaches out to him. @chrisbrogan
- Josh Bernoff: Coauthor of the BusinessWeek best-selling book, “Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies,” Bernoff is senior vice president, idea development, at Forrester Research. @jbernoff
Corey Perlman, Dan Zarrella, Louis Gray, Richard Binhammer, Frank Eliason, Robert Scoble, Eric Bradlow, Sally Falkow, Don Steele, Julien Smith, Michael Lazerow, Sarah Hofstetter, Mike Barbeau, Tom Gerace, Elizabeth Pigg, Jon Gibs, Chris Cunningham, Paul Beck, Matt Goddard, C.C. Chapman, Christopher Penn, Shel Israel, Larry Weber, Morgan Johnston, Tim Washer, Pete Cashmore, and David Armano.